Wow, this is another project that took ages!
Not as long as the Giant Alien Venus Flytrap, but I’ve been working on the doll part of it since March, and her steed for years!
There are so many processes, layers, coats, cures and stages to a big bricolage or assemblage art project.
I bought this headless Monster High Wydowna Spider doll body on eBay for a couple dollars, when I was looking for doll arms for the Eliza doll.
Then I just let it bounce around the doll parts drawer for a couple years. I had some vague idea of making an insect doll with it.
When I started messing with holographic and iridescent vinyl, I used the tiniest scraps to make the body a superhero suit in the style of Ororo’s First Appearance. I made a standing neck ruffle of crystal-studded glitter pvc during the same couple months, and an inner ruffle of clear blue vinyl that came from a package or something. Trying to use some actual trash in all my assemblage now!
Because almost no adhesive will hold shaped vinyl or pvc against its natural flexion, I secured the ruffles with wire and wired them carefully around the doll’s armpits to preserve articulation.
I had some yellow plastic doll sandals with filigree tops, which I snipped down, colored with a blue paint pen, painted with blue interference paint, and coated with Mod Podge. I put those on her shins, tied them on with ribbon and then sculpted some shoes onto her feet with Apoxie Sculpt. Sanded them, painted them blue, gave them shine with blue interference paint, and varnished shoes and spats with my hardcore German solvent-based varnish. And added some jewels, attached with UV resin. Done!
For her head, I had several loose doll heads I considered. I tried one out, coloring it black, styling its hair, adding huge jeweled eyes – but it didn’t look right.
I had to sculpt her head from scratch in the end.
I formed two connected balls out of crumpled aluminium foil, and then I used the same method of alternating layers of air-dry clay, then Apoxie Sculpt, as I did for the Alien Venus Flytrap.
I find initially covering a tin-foil base shape with air-dry clay is both faster and easier than using Apoxie Sculpt, because you don’t have to mix it and the air-dry clay is softer, so pressing it onto the base doesn’t deform it.
After a day or two of drying the air-dry clay can be sanded to refine its shape and covered with Apoxie Sculpt for more strength and rigidity. Let that cure for a day, sand and refine with your Tack-Life mini-dremel, then smooth with air-dry clay!
In the end I got a pretty nice head, and then I painted it with black tube acrylics.
And then, so many coats of Mod Podge Matte diluted with water.
It worked so well! (See the Giant Audrey post for the subject of whether you can dilute Mod Podge, a heated topic! ) Diluting the Mod Podge let me get smooth coats without brush marks, and the pencil let me rotate the head to help drips self-level. One of the many important things I have learned from action figure customizers is to always, always put your head on a stick.
The head was looking almost as if it had been manufactured with the body, which is always the customizers’ goal.
The subsurface specularity of the layers of Matte Mod Podge (which isn’t really matte) almost precisely matched the albedo of the molded plastic.
Of course, I foolishly ignored another crucial action figure customizer thing, which is, always, always, always prime!
I just decided to skip it for some reason! And you can see the results above. The areas of the head I hadn’t covered with Apoxie Sculpt let in moisture and the head cracked from moisture absorbed during the Mod Podge coats, even though the head had been painted with multiple coats of black tube acrylic first. Air-dry clay, even if it’s cured, can expand and crack when moisture seeps into it. ALWAYS PRIME!!!
Anyway, having screwed up with not priming, I proceeded to screw up again with the UV resin.
I had envisioned the doll’s eyes as covered in refractive, transparent layers of UV resin and glitter from the beginning. I used Padico UV/LED resin, which cures almost instantly when hit with a UV LED flashlight. But I am a UV resin amateur. When I started to put the resin and glitter layers on the eyeballs, of course it crept over onto the forehead and beak. It is very gooey, very drippy stuff, and the minute it touched the rest of the head, it couldn’t be wiped off without destroying the whole finish.
So I covered the whole head with resin. Which messed up the lines of the sculpt a bit, because it is so hard to apply UV resin to a rounded complex shape and get a level finish! You can see that on the lumpy eyeballs above. And it changed the albedo of the finish so it was now higher than the body!
Augh. I had to keep going, at this point – sometimes you just have to.
I drilled out the base of the head to fit the neck join of the body – my drill goes right through the crumpled foil- and attached antennae from a plastic bug. (Those had been Mod Podged, painted black, then Mod Podged again!)
I used UV resin to attach the antennae, and I have to say that is a bricolage and assemblage application that UV resin is perfect for!
It is faster than Super Glue and holds more varied connecting surfaces. I just put a blob of resin on the base of the antenna, held it onto the head with one hand and hit it with the UV LED torch with the other. BOOM!
I also put a light wash of diluted Mod Podge over the center of the doll’s face to knock down the albedo. It is a hack, and could be scraped off, but it looks ok.
The wings were another UV resin experiment.
I had some cicada wings printed onto acetate from a doll company, bought years ago, and I wanted to bond the acetate wings onto Angelina Fantasy Film. In retrospect, I should have used holographic vinyl, which is thicker! But I smeared a layer of UV resin on the back of the wings (not yet cut out of their sheet) and put the Fantasy film over it and squidged them together like filling a cake. Then I hit the sandwich with the torch to cure it and cut the wings out.
I would say it worked fairly well, bonding the surfaces without smearing the print on the acetate or warping either film. Probably white glue or Mod Podge would have worked too. However, I felt like my UV resin luck was running out. I didn’t think I could get a smooth layer on the surface of the wings, although people on etsy do it all the time. So I used my hardcore German varnish. I coated the wings heavily and let it drip off (terrible fumes!). It did self-level pretty well, although it got a little thick at the edges.
The final touch was something to cover the wires around her shoulders that hold the ruff on, and something to hide the place where I glued the wings on her back. I was peering into my ribbon drawer, thinking of ruffling a thin organza ribbon, when I saw a hair flower that had lost its back. Bingo! I tore it apart and the results were even better than I hoped – it was constructed of little triangular folded wings that fit perfectly in all the spaces!
I put her jeweled metal girdle on and tied it with ribbon at the back, and fused it with the front of her costume using UV resin.
Oh wow was I glad to be done! SO MANY PROCESSES!!!!
How I made the ombré filigree holographic vinyl and resin girdle will be in the next post, which is…
The Wasp Doll has a horse-bird-steed thing, too!
Other doll-things I have made:
Limb-Different Non-Binary Fetish Fairy
The Gothest Action Figure Custom ever.
Valentine’s Monster Doll Armada
Custom Elsa Lancaster as The Bride
Earliest dolls! with bad photos!